USA Christmas Vacation: How Many Days Off?

There’s no doubt that everyone looks forward to the extended break from work or school that happens every holiday season. Christmas break is an incredible opportunity to get closer with your family and even take an exciting vacation. But how long does Christmas vacation last in the USA?

The length of Christmas Vacation in the USA ranges from two to four weeks. College students receive the lengthiest Christmas breaks on average, while K-12 students get a two-week break. Most workers aren’t given specific Christmas vacation dates but can request PTO of a length of their choice.

In this article, I’ll be explaining all of the key details you need to know about Christmas vacation in the USA. Aside from clarifying just how long this spectacular break lasts, I’ll also be giving some essential information on what days are actually classified as federal holidays.

How Long Is Christmas Vacation in the USA?

The length of Christmas vacation in the USA varies, as different school districts and employers tend to grant different days off. Christmas break always includes Christmas Eve (December 24), Christmas Day (December 25), New Year’s Eve (December 31), and New Year’s Day (January 1). At minimum, a Christmas vacation needs to last 8 days to encompass all of these holidays. 

There is no universal Christmas vacation for employees. Most salaried jobs offer time off on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but hourly jobs and essential jobs often expect at least some employees to work over the holiday. If the request is made early enough in the year, most employees can secure a lengthy Christmas vacation using PTO or unpaid vacation time.

College students generally receive a Christmas vacation that lasts two to four weeks. The vacation usually starts in the middle of December as the fall semester ends. As the spring semester begins in the second week of January, the Christmas vacation comes to an end. The exact duration of winter break varies by the college you attend.

Just like school districts recognize summer vacation, they also offer students a winter break. The majority of K-12 students receive two weeks for their Christmas vacation. The vacation generally starts just a few days before Christmas Eve and ends in early January. Just as with the break that college students receive, the K-12 Christmas vacation encompasses all four holidays.

Is Christmas a Holiday in USA?

Christmas is a holiday in the USA. In fact, Christmas has been recognized as a federal holiday in the United States since 1870 — ensuring that most workers can enjoy the holiday relaxing at home with their families. 

In the earliest days of the United States, the celebration of Christmas was actually banned in many areas. The Puritans saw the decadence and extravagance of the holidays as too similar to England and Europe, and purported that the holiday harmed religious discipline.

It wasn’t long until a push for the holiday to become federally recognized became immensely popular, however. During the industrial revolution, legislators began to recognize that many employees were being overworked and dying as a result. 

To address this issue, they needed to create a holiday that would give workers more leisure and relaxation. As a result of the push by legislators, President Ulysses S. Grant signed a bill that declared Christmas would become a federal holiday.

Is December 24 a Holiday in the US?

While December 24 is generally considered a holiday by people in the United States, it is not included in the eleven recognized federal holidays. Despite this, many schools and employers recognize Christmas Eve as a holiday and offer time off.

It’s important to note that while December 24 isn’t a federal holiday, it is considered a state holiday in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Michigan, Texas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. 

In certain cases, the timing of Christmas Day may allow employees to take Christmas Eve off. If Christmas Day falls on a Sunday or Monday, employees who are given weekends off will have no obstacles in celebrating Christmas Eve on Saturday or Sunday.

Likewise, most K-12 school districts and colleges recognize Christmas Eve as a holiday in the US. The two-week Christmas vacation typically given to K-12 students extends from mid-December to early January, while college students can even have most of the month off. As a result, students will have the opportunity to celebrate on December 24th comfortably at home.

December 24 can be considered a federal holiday if an executive order is issued. December 24, 2020 was considered a federal holiday as a result of an executive order.

Is December 31 a Holiday?

New Year’s Eve is not considered a holiday by the federal government, but it is included in most holiday breaks offered by schools, colleges, and employers. States like Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Michigan consider December 31 a state holiday.

Just like with Christmas Eve, the timing of New Year’s Day may allow employees to take New Year’s Eve off. If New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday or Monday, employees who have the weekend off will be able to celebrate New Year’s Eve comfortably.

Additionally, December 31 is included in the Christmas vacations offered by most K-12 school districts and colleges. Because both breaks always extend into early January, students are guaranteed to have New Year’s Eve off.

Is January 3rd 2022 a Holiday in USA?

January 3rd, 2022 was not a federal holiday. Because New Year’s Day fell on a Saturday, the preceding day — December 31, 2021 — was considered a federal holiday. January 2nd may be considered a federal holiday if New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday. There is no circumstance where January 3rd is considered a federal holiday.

There are many niche holidays celebrated by smaller groups of people on January 3rd. For example, the Festival of Sleep Day, Memento Mori Day, National Drinking Straw Day, and National Write to Congress Day are all observed by enthusiasts on January 3rd. No significant holidays fall on January 3rd.

Final Thoughts

Christmas vacation is easily one of the most wonderful times of the year. Whether you intend to use the vacation as a much-needed opportunity to recover or want to spend more time with your family, there’s no shortage of incredible ways to spend it. 

Knowing how long the break lasts is important to making the best of it, however. With this guide, you’ll know everything you need about how long Christmas vacation lasts in the USA.